The least of us

Just five minutes ago I was drifting between tasks that need doing –my reading assignment lies on the couch, not being read, and my five year old was rushing into the house asking for something to drink. My ten year old stepped in just after he left, asking whether his face was “scratched up”.

I pulled my head out of the refrigerator (I was trying to cut up some raw veggies for lunch) and saw a flushed pink streak down his left brow, across the opening of his eye socket and beginning again underneath his eye. It wasn’t bleeding –hadn’t even really broken the skin- but my hand went to my hip and I began a diplomatic rewording of the old adage, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”.

As these scenarios unfold in the doorway between our living room and kitchen, there’s a creepy background noise of machinery barely audible until the house gets quiet again. A squeaking, whirring back and forth noise is coming from the new (discount store treasure) washing machine in the basement. I’ve been distracted this morning by everything from Facebook to daydreaming to shooting tiny marshmallows over the backyard fence at the boys having a “carnivores versus vegetarians” war with my yard rakes.

I have a paper to write and it took me the good part of the afternoon to convince Charlie to play outside with the other boys. He really likes his train set, or at least that is his reason for refusing to join them.  It’s a line of three small wooden cars with magnetic ends that pull each other along as he drives them with one hand and crawls across the floor with his other.

As stressful and desperate as this year has made me feel at times, I’m realizing today that pursuing treatment for my depression was probably the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. This morning I was able, just for a moment, to pull my mind away from the things that really suck or haven’t yet been figured out. As much as I still wanted Charlie to go outside (and now that he has I’m finally writing something) it really felt wonderful to spend a few moments with him and see that he still has wonder for the world and can still have imaginative fun without high definition graphics of any kind. It’s also just heartwarming to watch him play and know that he is, for the most part, safe here. The boys out in the yard hollering and swinging rakes are as safe as roughneck boys with gardening implements can be.

It sort of breaks my heart, though, to think of children who don’t have that kind of security. This child that was shot in Rockford yesterday -11 years old and hit in the arm by crossfire from a dispute between two women- deserves better. He’s not old enough to make his situation better on his own, and it doesn’t look like anyone was trying to do that for him when he took a bullet running for his life. We as a community need to do better. We all need to care about kids like this, because if no one does now that he’s an innocent victim, who’s going to give or teach him compassion as a young man?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Consider which administration would be the most or the least beneficial to this child -or to the one we were initially told was used as a human shield by the knife-wielding domestic abuser that was shot by police earlier this week… only to find out now that that was completely wrong and that the chief of police was just repeating information told to him by “law enforcement sources” at the time. The Chief of Police is citing “law enforcement sources” to explain away a gaffe that created a front page headline in the Rockford Register Star?

Not only have the news outlets failed to make this correction as prominent as it’s fabricated precursor -but there was a child present until being removed from the home. That child will never see the man who was killed again because he’s been gunned down in his own kitchen (regardless of who’s at fault). What will become of that child? What sort of view does he or she have of the world and how it works from either side of the equation?

The mayor’s office just got it’s first raise in ten years, and some folks think that’s only fair. In a town that’s seen as much gun violence and crime as this one, is it really a matter of fairness to give the man at the top more money because it’s just time? In a town that’s had to sacrifice streetlights and library hours for the sake of the budget, is it really going to help if we add more TIF districts, Riverside Attractions and raises for the elected officials that operate as if justice is a a foreign policy?

Yes… our city needs some change pretty bad. Even if you think the electoral college nullifies your presidential vote (which I’ve heard more times than I can count) you STILL need to vote. Do it for Rockford. Do it for our children.


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